In the Revelstoke Makers series we profile local makers – people who have honed a craft and are skilled in creating things by hand. The series will explore areas of tension in a maker’s process and examine how each person overcomes challenges unique to their art.

Meet Tabitha Archer, a retired restaurant owner from Calgary and the best kombucha brewer in Revelstoke. Archer’s background is in vegetarian cooking and once owned a restaurant called The Coup. After 10 years of the city hustle and bustle, she decided to step away and move on from the business. Archer has since relocated to Revelstoke to enjoy the mountain lifestyle and continues to explore her passion for yummy organic food. Now she makes soups, dips, dressings and kombucha and sells them at the winter farmers market.

Revelstoke Mountaineer: What do you make?

Tabitha Archer: I look at vegetarian fare as my creative outlet to share with others, a kind of edible art. One of my favourite things lately has been kombucha. Kombucha is a fermented drink made out of sweetened tea and bacteria that is introduced from a starter culture also known as a SCOBY (Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast). Kombucha has been around for centuries. It has recently gained popularity in our culture because of the known health benefits. The bacteria in the tea aids in digestion, liver care, is an amazing antioxidant and also tastes delicious! I think I have enjoyed this process of fermentation because you get to watch the SCOBY change and grow, it relies on you to feed it and you rely on it for health, it is a symbiotic relationship.

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Archer’s mama SCOBY. Photo taken by J. Rebbetoy for the Revelstoke Mountaineer

RM: How did you learn to work with this medium? What inspires you to create?

TA: Brewing kombucha was something that I was interested in for a long time but just never got around to experimenting with. Last year, a friend of mine was leaving town and he gave me his SCOBY to look after. I took the opportunity to try brewing my first batch of kombucha. From then on I was hooked.

I find the fermentation process a very interesting form to work with because it’s alive and changes all the time.  It’s mostly a trial and error process which allows me to see what flavours work well together and what kind of different tea flavours will nurture the SCOBY best. My favourite flavour at the moment is hibiscus-pear-ginger.

SCOBYs held up by Archer. Photo taken by J. Rebbetoy for the Revelstoke Mountaineer.
SCOBYs held up by Archer. Photo taken by J. Rebbetoy for the Revelstoke Mountaineer

RM: As a kombuchtress what do you consider your greatest achievement to date?

TA: My achievements with the brewing process are on a personal level – when I create a kombucha and it turns out tasting wonderful. It is also in the positive feedback I receive from returning customers.  This puts a huge smile on my face knowing that customers are also enjoying the wonderful benefits and taste of the kombucha that I have made.

The biggest obstacle is finding homes for the all of the SCOBY babies that are grown every time you brew a batch. At one point this past winter I had a closet full of SCOBYs because I did not have the heart to compost the living bacterial creatures.

Apple flavoured kombucha made by Archer. Photo taken by J. Rebbetoy for the Revelstoke Mountaineer.
Apple flavoured kombucha made by Archer. Photo taken by J. Rebbetoy for the Revelstoke Mountaineer.
Tabitha Archer. Photo taken by J. Rebbetoy for the Revelstoke Mountaineer.
Tabitha Archer. Photo taken by J. Rebbetoy for the Revelstoke Mountaineer

RM: When did your craft transition from hobby to profession?

TA: Making kombucha is not a profession for me, it’s just something I like to do and share with people, especially at parties with a bottle of gin.

RM: What are some new directions your creations are taking?

TA: Now that fruit season is almost among us, the opportunities for new flavours become endless. I can’t wait to try peach and nectarine as a flavour base and also explore the idea of a veggie base that can emulate a Caesar.

Something else on the agenda is a slightly different product called kefir. It is usually a yogurt based bacterial culture, but I want to try it with water and fruit instead. In all reality, the ideas and opportunities are endless.

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